Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Presidents Report 2013

MHS has started to dip it's toe into the modern world!

We support a blog, have included multimedia presentations at open days and this year's President Report was delivered by SKYPE!!!

Geoff Ostling didn't let an overseas holiday stop him from performing his presidential duties and delivered his speech from a comfy chair in the USA while most members sat with wet feet on a coolish rain drenched morning in Herb Greedy Hall.

The following is a transcript of Geoff's report:

Good morning everyone. I am halfway across the world at a place called Flintstone in Georgia in the USA.  Flintstone is a suburb of the city of Chattanooga, which is on the border of Tennessee and Georgia two of the ‘Southern states’ of the USA.

Chattanooga was made famous in the song, ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’, first recorded by Glenn Miller in 1941 and then recorded by the Andrews Sisters and numerous other performers over the years, including KISS in 2002.  Many MHS members will, no doubt, remember this song from years-gone-by.

I am here for the 150th Anniversary of some of the most important battles of the American Civil War and to learn more about them. Our host, Dewaine Fisher, is the son of one of the National Park Rangers of the Chickamauga – Chattanooga Battlefield and this was his home for the first 27 years of his life.  He continues to live close to the park.

Joe and I spent our first day here on a guided historical tour of the bloodiest of all the battles of 1863. I was amazed to hear about the severity of the fighting and the more than 10,000 men from both the North and the South who died here in just three days of savage fighting over the abolition of slavery in the United States.

We will also be visiting ‘Colonial Williamsburg’ in Virginia and several of the beautiful old pre-Civil War house-museums and other heritage buildings staffed by volunteers in period costume, which the Americans call ‘Living History’.

After three weeks in the USA, Joe and I are flying to Peru in South America to see the archaeological remains of the mighty Inca civilization. I’ll have a great many things to talk about when I get home at the end of July.

Thanks to modern science I am hoping this report is being presented on Skype, the internet connection that combines both sound and image. Unfortunately it does not always work, but when it does, it is brilliant.  I have my fingers crossed this morning…

Now to the 29th Annual Presidential Report of Marrickville Heritage Society. 

Marrickville Heritage Society
2013 President’s Report
 
This has been a very successful year. We have over 400 members and a wonderful committee who have worked tirelessly throughout the year. I want to thank our two vice presidents Lorraine Beach and Iain Carolin, and the other members of the executive committee, our treasurer Diane McCarthy, secretary Vivien Wherry, assistant secretary Rosemary Wood, and other committee members, Robert Hutchinson, Mary Oakenfull, Deborah Lang, Pamela Stewart, Richard Blair and Ian Phillips.

Richard Blair has produced the newsletter each month which is the envy of other history and heritage societies across Australia. While thanking Richard, I also want to thank our ‘runners’ who deliver your newsletter to your doorstep.  Over the last 29 years they have saved our society thousands of dollars in postage.

Deborah Lang has developed a regular ‘blog’ on our Marrickville Heritage Society website.  This ‘blog’ includes information about Marrickville read by people around the world. There will be more of this in the Publications Report later in the meeeting.  

Our society’s financial position is extremely good as a result of all the voluntary work.

Marrickville Council has provided free-of-charge the Herb Greedy Hall for our regular meetings.  The Council has also assisted in information about heritage-related development applications within the Local Government Area.  

In the last year, our Society has been represented at
  • The Fanny Durack Centenary Picnic at Petersham Park. Here we celebrated the first Australian to win an Olympic Gold Medal at the Stockholm Olympic Games on 15th July 1912;
  • The Marrickville Festival;
  • The Health and Wellbeing Forum at Marrickville Town Hall;
  • The recent Open Weekend at Tempe House arranged by MHS member and founder of the Friends of Tempe House, Ross Berry;
  • The Annual Conference of the Royal Australian Historical Society held at the St George Rowing Club where MHS Vice President, Loraine Beach, was presented with a Certificate of Achievement for her work in promoting history of this part of Sydney;
  • Again, MHS was represented at the 175th Anniversary of the opening of St Peters Anglican Church, in the parish of Cooks River. St Peters is the oldest building still-standing, in the Marrickville LGA and gave its name to the suburb of St Peters;
  • Marrickville, a past worth preserving (MAPWP), is the volume of essays published by our Society.  Marrickville Council purchased a copy of this volume for each high school in the Marrickville LGA and they are being presented by a MHS member at each high school’s assembly of students;
  • Deborah Lang and I are our society’s representatives on Marrickville Council’s Heritage Promotions Committee which arranged the annual Marrickville Medal presentation at Marrickville Town Hall. The speaker that night was Robin Walsh, whose recent publication In Her Own Words, the writings of Elizabeth Macquarie has received wide acclaim.  We congratulate all the prize winners including Lorraine Beach who received Marrickville Council’s 2013 ‘Special Achievement Award’.
 Our speakers for the year included
  • Andrew Tink who spoke on the life and times of Lord Sydney after whom our city was named;
  • King Fong spoke on the history of the Chinese people in Australia;
  • Laurel and Bob Horton provided an excellent presentation on St Peters with readings from the diaries of early settler Alexander Brodie Spark;
  • Robert Parkinson spoke about the Marrickville and Newtown picture theatres between 1898 and 2012;
  • Clinton Johnston, coordinator of History services at Marrickville Library, who spoke about items from the Marrickville Council History collection and Archives ‘From the Vault’.
 Our excursions were to the following places:
Image: Richard Blair
  • Rookwood Cemetery where we inspected the graves removed from the Lewisham Catholic Cemetery when the railway was widened in the 1920s, the Gallipoli Mosque in Auburn and the much-admired Japanese garden at Auburn Botanic Gardens;
  • The Big Dig and the Rocks Discovery Museum at the Rocks;
  • A bus trip to the two sites at Petersham and at Vaucluse associated with the ‘Great Australian Patriot’ William Charles Wentworth, his wife the ‘currency lass’, Sarah Cox, and their children.  We also visited the Wentworth Family Mausoleum and the Wentworth Memorial Church;
  • The Egyptian Room at Petersham Masonic Centre which includes bas relief sculptures some covered in pure gold.  They are the work of sculptor Raynor Hoff  and based on the 2000 year old Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ in the British Museum;
  • Finally our annual Christmas ‘Pot Luck Supper’ at the home and garden of Laurel and Bob Horton in Tempe.
The Heritage Watch Program of the Society included numerous submissions to Marrickville Council and follow-ups relating to DAs involving heritage issues. Recently I rang a member who had spent a day and a half researching just one particular heritage site for presentation to Council on proposed redevelopments. Many times we do not recognise the enormous amount of work that members do which is not generally known outside the Committee.

Marrickville Heritage Society is one of the 400 community groups affiliated to the ‘Better Planning Network of NSW’ concerned with the new planning legislation presently proposed by the state government. I am certain that there will be lots more about this in the near future.

Our 30th Anniversary
In April 2014 we celebrate 30 years of contribution to the municipality of Marrickville and the continuing   recognition of heritage within our Local Government area. We look forward to another very successful year.

To conclude
I have had a most enjoyable time as President of the Marrickville Heritage Society and consider it an honour to be invited to stand for re-election.


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